The Gift

Supernatural hogwash about a Southern belle (Cate Blanchett) who's gifted with the ability to predict people's futures and see things that happen elsewhere. When she gets the feeling that a local debutante (Katie Holmes, who wins the prize for most gratuitous topless scene of 2000) has been murdered, all kinds of worms pop out of the can. This whodunnit thriller is a B-movie to the core, with an A-list cast who must have been eager to play against type. Thus you have Keanu Reeves as a violent redneck, Greg Kinnear not acting smarmy, Hilary Swank playing trailer trash, Giovanni Ribisi playing - well, once again playing the slow-witted loser with a heart of gold - and a bunch of other actors plying their ersatz Southern accents.

Unfortunately, the script is a dud. It's predictable, unpleasant, much shallower than it thinks it is (it was cowritten by Billy Bob Thornton, who reportedly based Blanchett's character on his own mother), and Blanchett's psychic abilities are treated as a mere plot device; there's nothing fresh or intriguing about them. There are some cheap scares on offer, but the film is ultimately uninvolving. Its only plus is its evocative bayou atmosphere (composer Christopher Young's Cajun score is good). Note to Sam Raimi: please have fun when you make movies, like you used to in your Evil Dead days. Just because you're a "serious" filmmaker now doesn't mean you have to hold yourself back.